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by Debra Chong
Published by: Malaysian Insider
Date: August 15, 2010
Calls to set up special schools for teenage mothers nationwide with the first one in Malacca scheduled for Sept 1 due to the belief they may be denied access to full education, appear to be moot.
An Education Ministry official confirmed that pregnant students can attend national schools, busting a widespread perception they cannot.
“Pregnant teens can go to school,” the official told The Malaysian Insider.
There is nothing in the ministry’s regulations to say schoolgirls are barred if they become pregnant or get married, added the official who asked not to be named.
“In our regulations, we don’t say they cannot be pregnant, but only they cannot ponteng (skip school),” he said.
Those recorded to have missed school for 60 days are automatically expelled, he noted.
“The fact is they can go to school. The perception they cannot is wrong. It’s their right to get an education,” he stressed.
Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam made headlines recently when he announced the set-up of a state school specially for pregnant teens, to ensure they will not miss out on an education.
The school would be the first in the country, if the proposal goes through.
Several groups, including Puteri Umno, have voiced support for the idea and want Putrajaya to establish similar facilities on a national scale.
The education official noted that Malacca could carry out its idea without involving the ministry as the facility would be treated as a private school.
He also suggested that such a set-up would be a waste of federal resources when the government had never deprived anyone of an education based on those reasons.
The idea for a school for pregnant teens came following a spate of baby dumping over the past few months. The Women and Family Development set up baby hatches but very few have used it, preferring to dump the babies elsewhere.
Malacca has also said it will encourage pregnant teens to marry their partners, raising an outcry among those who feel these couples are too young to get married.
Instead, civil rights groups have called for sex or reproductive education in secondary schools which the Education Ministry has demurred due to religious and cultural sensitivities.
This House Would Establish A Special School For Pregnant Teenagers.